Written By: Howard Gordan
Directed By: Ian Toynton
The shift in tone that I talked about in my last interview continues in this episode, as the show seems to be moved by character issues and relationships almost as much as plot at this point. On the other hand, there are plenty of tricks up the sleeves of the 24 writers, and this episode literally ends with a bang that caught me off guard.
Now that Jack knows the name and address of Kyle, he rendezvous with a biohazard containment team before storming the young man’s home. The head of the team is an old friend of Jack’s, and she notices his withdrawal symptoms as well as a bottle of heroin on the floor that he unsuccessfully tried to shoot up before they arrived. Once again we’re presented with Jack’s weakness in the face of the drugs. The question I’m left wondering is to what purpose? Why give Jack a drug addiction? Is this simply a way to humanize the character and show he’s not as invincible as some would believe, or is there a greater purpose at work here that hasn’t been revealed as of yet?
Speaking of Kyle, he’s got some splaining to do. His dad comes home and when he finds out that Kyle paid the rent, he demands to know where Kyle got the money. Kyle feebly lies about winning the money at the horse track, but Kyle’s dad calls him on his bullshit. In an effort to avoid the confrontation and gather himself, Kyle flees to his room and slams the door shut. He quickly gathers his things and the bag of coke before trying to leave the house. His father physically stops him though, and the two scuffle before the father finally rips the travel bag away from him and discovers the bag of coke which contains the virus. They scuffle again and the bag of coke rips, spreading through the air as Kyle flees the house empty handed.
Back at the CTU, Kim runs into Chase who is furious about being sidelined by Jack in this case. Unable to do or say anything to Jack though, Chase vents some of his frustration on Kim. When she calls him on their relationship, he remains silent about what kind of future they might now have.
Gael, the Salazar plant at the CTU is keeping tabs on the situation, but grows increasingly worried as the CTU edges closer and closer to Kyle. Regarding the plant, I do hope something interesting occurs with him. Because at this point, the CTU mole is a storyline that was already run twice during the first season with both Jamie and Nina. By now you would hope that CTU had a much better screening process in place. It’s a careful line the writers are going to have to walk in order to not repeat themselves.
In the Palmer Camp, things are becoming somewhat fractious between Wayne and David. Although he has evidence to the contrary, David doesn’t want to believe that his new relationship with Anne is in jeopardy due to something she’s hidden from him. I imagine it can’t be easy to trust again if you’re David Palmer.
It seems that Anne’s ex husband is stating that she helped him run a fraudulent experimental drug scam that led to his arrest, but Anne swears she knew nothing about it. That she was fooled like everyone else. At this point though, that just makes it Anne’s word against her ex’s, and in this scandal loving climate,
Of course David’s first instinct is to stand and fight these lies. He’s done so successfully in the past, and he can do so again now.
Jack and the rest of the quarantine team bust in on the Singers looking for Kyle, and Kyle’s mother runs and flushes the bag of cocaine down the toilet to try and protect her son. Jack screams to Tony that the virus is loose and begins to shut the place down.
In prison, Ramon Salazar makes a call to Annicon, the district attorney, and states that he’s ready to confess. When Annicon comes to hear the confession, Salazar taunts the DA instead and has the prison guard choke him to death. It seems Ramon had kidnapped the prison guard’s son, and agreed to release him only if the guard killed Annicon. Realistically, this scene was only thrown in there to show how big of a bastard Ramon Salazar is. And for that, it’s quite effective. Salazar is a man who will stoop to any level to attack his foes, and how takes great pleasure in his sadism.
Hector meanwhile is still trying to patch up things with his girlfriend Claudia, and she begins to try and sow some seeds of discord between Hector and Ramon. Claudia brings up the fact that when Ramon is freed, he goes back to being in charge and Hector returns to being a subordinate. She asks Hector if he’s ready to go back to that, making him re-examine his priorities.
Back at the Singer apartment, repeated tests on the atmosphere, the Singers, and the residual cocaine itself all reveal the same fact – the drug is not present. It was never present within the cocaine. Jack wonders at this until he remembers the 12 hour incubation period of the virus in question. Doing the math, he quickly realizes that the virus is inside of Kyle Singer right now. And if he should not be brought in before it becomes contagious, the results will be catastrophic.
Kyle has no clue of this, and is simply worried about the fact that he lost the bag of drugs. He believes his life is in danger if he doesn’t get the money to replace them for the dealers. He calls his girlfriend and begs her for help. She reluctantly agrees to come pick her up and steal some money from her father in order to help him. At first I didn’t really understand why they needed the girlfriend character in this show at all, aside from the producer’s obvious fondness of blonde women. It was only after I thought about the fact that Kyle and his girl had implied sex in the second episode that it made sense. Even if the CTU manages to find and contain Kyle, the virus might still have been transmitted unknowingly to the girl. Which just about makes it the worst STD ever.
Drawing a bead on the cell phone, the CTU locates Kyle in the Los Feliz mall. Jack races to get there, but due to distance and traffic the CTU also sends a field team headed by Tony to go pick him in the interim. Gael lets Hector know about this mission, and Hector is forced to step up his time table to compensate.
When Tony approaches Kyle in the mall, he tries to explain that Kyle is infected with a very serious virus, and that he needs to come with Tony. Kyle is understandably jittery at this point, but before Tony can force the issue, one of the Salazar’s henchman comes from behind and shoots him in the face. Jack races onto the scene, but by then Kyle has already fled and Tony is thrashing on the ground, the wound clearly in his neck. Jack orders the mall to be locked down and sees to Tony, but by then it might already be too late.
The tension level is slowly raising over the show now, and the idea of the human incubation system is more interesting then something trafficked through drugs. Plus the near killing of Tony certainly added that whole unexpected flair that marks the best episodes of 24. So why this season still seems dominated by character based drama as opposed to the plot driven past seasons, there’s hope that the sharpness of the writing and plot twists themselves haven’t gone anywhere.
7.5 out of 10